Driven by for decades

Like that U-Haul van, I’ve driven past this cemetery while heading somewhere else — in my case, for decades. Today, after a jaunt into National Lumber for paint chips and moth traps, the guys and I went in.

It’s much larger than I supposed, with widely spaced rows of markers. There are legible carvings in slate, lichen capped marble stones in various states of blur (having not weathered the years as well), and the usual variety of shapes.

Abigail, Rebecca, Hannah, Mary, and Lucinda. Albert, Enoch, James, John and Ezra.

Nineteenth century headstones always get me thinking about history in general and slavery in particular. This person died during the Civil War, say, or this one died two years before the Emancipation Proclamation.

For the entirety of Edward Hartt’s life, slavery was alive and well in America.

There were many headstones for babies and even more for people who died in their twenties. I didn’t do an inventory or anything, but I only saw one older person’s grave — a septuagenarian. It makes you appreciate how brief lives were before antibiotics, vaccinations, surgical interventions and dental care (can you imagine dying of an abscess in a rotted tooth?)

I laughed at Frank’s gravestone. Because no text carved in stone is casual, I wondered who decided to put that period after his name and was there any debate about it?

There was a lot of storm damage. Newton’s community clean up day has designated this as a site, but as someone who’s coordinated a few of these events, I wonder what exactly people will do. Maybe a crew will come in with chainsaws, first.

The textures were gorgeous, including those associated with the neighboring lumberyard.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend! It is actually warm enough this afternoon to go outside without a down jacket!

18 thoughts on “Driven by for decades

  1. Nancy

    Aren’t old cemeteries fascinating? And the ones in your area…so old! I remember noticing that on our 2010 trip to Boston. I think I like FRANK. the best!! The large and small white stone with nothing on them feel especially sad to me, to just disappear when someone obviously want to mark their time here. xo

    Reply
    1. deemallon Post author

      The difference between the marble and slate was incredible. And yes, for the names to fade away is so poignant

      Reply
      1. Nancy

        My daughter, especially, like to look around the graves in Genoa, NV when we were there. She was taken with the infants or young children…that children so young died more often.

        Reply
        1. deemallon Post author

          Do you ever go in the hot springs there? The baby headstones are just so gripping.

  2. Michelle Skater

    My Massachusetts friends Mom and I used to visit grave yards…obscure ones like this and as ancient. They hold history in the stone and the earth and they were often family plots attached to land since gone the way of real estate. Of course they speak to our own mortality and perhaps that is the draw. You had a field day with the details and wonderful observation of textures too.

    Reply
    1. deemallon Post author

      There’s another really old one across from the law school that I want to stop by. My sister and I often drive through one near where she lives. Salem is so rich in history.

      Reply
  3. Marti

    Dee, this blog entry had me searching for photos from our trip to Ireland in 2006. We visited Glendalough, (Glendalough is a glacial valley in County Wicklow, Ireland, renowned for an Early Medieval monastic settlement founded in the 6th century by St Kevin). This is a place of mist and mystic callings and I was so drawn to the Celtic crosses adorning many grave sites. Some had no words but carved drawings on the cross, telling the ancient story of who lived on the land. We spent considerable time looking at grave sites and carved stone markers. The oldest grave stone photo that I have is from 1789: The carving reads,
    “Here lies the body of Kehoe Dep, July 28, 1789. May God have mercy on his soul. Amen.”

    Reply
  4. Jen

    One time we turned down a gravel road to follow a “Cemetery” marker, pulled in, did the walk through (lots of families, lots of children) and it was surrounded on 3 sides by pasture. Right in the corner a bunch of cows were lowing (I think that is what they do) and bam, right there in front of us, a cow gave birth to a calf. Was just weird being in the cemetery and pondering death and all, then a new life. Middle of Missouri life.

    Reply
  5. ravenandsparrow

    I have been to New England only once…we visited a cemetery in New Hampshire that had relatives buried in it, but I found the cemeteries tucked amid the large urban buildings of Boston to be the most intriguing. Things are so much older and more crowded on the east coast. There has been more time for the elements to erase the memories.

    Reply
    1. deemallon Post author

      There’s a very historic graveyard in downtown Boston. I love to visit that one. John Hancock. Phyllis Wheatley. The victims of the Boston Massacre. All buried there. This one is forlorn and neglected. I hope at the very least that the pine tree debris will be cleaned up.

      Reply

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